New Zealand

Proposed Job Cuts Exceeding 300 by Ministry for the Environment

Ministry for the Environment Proposes Cutting Over 300 Jobs

Plans are underway at the Ministry for the Environment to reduce its workforce by more than 300 positions, a move that would shrink its staff count by almost one-third.

Following the confirmation of the government’s Budget, various agencies are now revealing their strategies to trim expenses as instructed by Finance Minister Nicola Willis.

The ministry announced on Wednesday its proposal to eliminate 303 full-time roles by July next year, reducing its staff from 993 to 690.

Approximately 150 fixed-term contracts are slated to conclude by the end of October. Additionally, voluntary and suggested redundancies for permanent employees are on the table, with some delays expected until June next year.

Already, 45 individuals have accepted voluntary redundancy following an earlier call-out in April. The ministry is now welcoming further expressions of interest during the consultation period, which extends until June 26.

Chief Executive James Palmer explained that prior to the change in government, the ministry’s budget was expected to decline by 26 percent over the next four years due to the conclusion of time-limited funding for waste, water, and resource management programs. This, combined with recent Budget decisions, is projected to decrease baseline funding by 39 percent by the 2027/28 financial year.

Palmer highlighted the ministry’s efforts to mitigate the impact on current permanent staff by implementing a hiring freeze, utilizing fixed-term contracts, and restructuring to reduce the number of senior managers.

However, he acknowledged that the proposed changes would be challenging for many employees who have contributed high-quality work under both the current and previous administrations.

The Budget indicated that job cuts at the ministry would save $22 million by 2028, with further savings expected through reduced funding for freshwater programs.

The Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi (PSA) expressed concern that the cuts could jeopardize essential work in combatting climate change, improving water quality, and protecting biodiversity. The union emphasized the importance of environmental preservation for New Zealand’s identity and economic prosperity, criticizing the government’s apparent disregard for these challenges in favor of tax cuts.

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